Keris Eras (‘Tangguh Keris’)

Traditionally, kerises are categorized into ‘tangguh’, the estimated era in which the keris was made. Based on certain characteristic features of the blade, a general assumption of its tangguh can be made. This means that, when a person speaks of a keris ‘tangguh Majapahit’, he or she is refering to a keris which was made during the reign of the Majapahit empire era, or that the blade exhibits specific features from the work of a particular empu of that time.

The earliest kerises in Indonesia are known as ‘Keris Buda’. Yet no separate tangguh is reserved for these kerises since there are only two types (‘dapur’) of Keris Buda – ‘Dapur Jalak Buda’ and ‘Betok Buda’.

With that being said, a keris will generally be categorized into one of the following tangguhs:

Tangguh Segaluh (12th century)
Characteristic features: (1) both short and long blades; (2) a black/faint green-colored blade; (3) a dry surface of the blade (due to ageing of iron); (4) a faded pamor design (due to ageing process), known as ‘pamor kelem’; and (5) a wide ganja with the gandik stretching out to the front.

Tangguh Pajajaran (12th century)
Characteristic features: (1) a relatively long blade compared to kerises from other tangguhs; (2) the iron blade (due to process of ageing) is faded to white and looks dry; (3) the pamor design is that of ‘pamor nggajih’ (which looks like a layer of grease); (4) the gandik is long and bent a little; and (5) there is the sirah cicak on the wide ganja.

Tangguh  Kahuripan (1019 – 1045)
Characteristic features: (1) normal sized blade; (2) black-colored blade; (3) subtle design of waves (‘luk’); (4) usually without a clearly visible pamor design (‘pamor sanak’), though bright and contrasting pamor designs (‘pamor mubyar’) can be found as well; (5) the ganja is relatively tall, but not that wide.

Tanggguh Jenggala/Janggala (1045 – 1222)
Characteristic features: (1) a dark-colored blade (due to ageing process of iron); (2) generally a longer and wider blade compared to those made in other tangguhs; (3) a relatively short ganja with sirah cicak; and (4) a wide sor-soran.

Tangguh Singasari (1222 – 1292)
Characteristic features: (1) normal sized blade, but not very sharp-pointed; (2) a dark grey-colored blade; (3) the embedded pamor is not so clear and often seems faded (‘pamor kelem’); (4) a normal sized gandik with a small bent; and (5) a sirah cicak on a wide ganja.

Tangguh Majapahit (1292 – 1500)
Characteristic features: (1) a normal sized blade of refined quality; (2) a blueish-colored blade; (3) the luks can be wavy; (4) the pamor is firmly embedded and may look like fine fibers or hairs (‘pamor mrambut’); and (5) the gandik is short and slightly bent.

Tangguh Madura (1294 – 1474)

Early Madura era:

Characteristic features: (1) a flat and thin blade in several different sizes varying from short, normal to long; (2) a black-colored blade with a greenish tone; (3) the pamor design is that of ‘nggajih’ and feels a little rough; and (4) the ganja has a small sirah cicak.

Late Madura era:

Characteristic features: (1) a little less refined blade than that of the early Madura era; (2) a dark grey-colored blade; (3) made from lower quality steel; (4) features a bright pamor design (‘pamor mubyar’); (5) a gandik with a bent shape; and (6) a ganja with a small sirah cicak.

Tangguh Blambangan (1294 – 1474)
Characteristic features: (1) a normal sized blade which is not very sharp-pointed; (2) an elegant blade of metal that fades to white; (3) usually features pamor nggajih; (4) a short and bent gandik; and (5) a small sirah cicak on the ganja.

Tangguh Sedayu (1294 – 1474)
Characteristic features: (1) a refined and aesthetic design; (2) a normal sized but slim blade; (3) a dark blue to black color; (4) a simple pamor design of mrambut; and (5) a curved ganja (‘sebit ron tal’) with a tiny sirah cicak.

Tangguh Tuban (1294 – 1474)
Characteristic features: (1) a rather thick and wide blade, though normal in length; (2) shallow waves (‘luk’) which are spread out relatively far from each other; (3) no clear pamor design visible (‘pamor kelem’); (4) a short gandik; (5) a ganja with a short yet big and round sirah cicak; and (6) a tall sogokan.

Tangguh Sendang (1294 – 1474)
Characteristic features: (1) a coarse and not very aesthetic design; (2) a small and thin blade, also rather short in length; (3) a black-colored blade due to long and intensive forging; and (4) an sophisticated pamor design.

Tangguh Pengging (1475 – 1479)
Characteristic features: (1) a refined blade in normal size; (2) very curvy luks (if it has any); (3) a black-colored blade; (4) a simple pamor design with a soft touch; and (5) a long gulu meled.

Tangguh Demak (1475 – 1548)
Characteristic features: (1) a normal sized blade; (2) a dark blue to black-colored blade; (3)  a pamor design that looks faded (‘pamor kelem’); and (4) a small ganja, also with a small sirah cicak.

Tangguh Panjang/Pajang (1568 – 1586)
Characteristic features: (1) ; (2) a black-colored blade which looks dry; (3) a pamor design that was not created intentionally (‘pamor sawetu-wetune’); and (4) a large kembang kacang.

Tangguh Madiun (16th century)
Characteristic features: (1) ; a thick blade with clearly visable contours; (2) a black-colored blade which looks wet; and (3) contains only a little bit of pamor (which rather faded, but has a smooth feeling to it).

Tangguh Koripan (16th century)
Characteristic features: (1) a simple design without any extraordinary features; (2) a black-colored blade which looks dry; and (3) a faded pamor design like that of ‘pamor sanak’.

Tangguh Mataram Senopaten (1582 – 1601)
Characteristic features: (1) a refined blade; (2) a dark blue to black color; and (3) a smooth pamor design.

Tangguh Mataram Sultan Agung (1613 – 1645)
Characteristic features: (1) a very refined blade; (2) the iron of the blade is often unprocessed; and (3) a bright pamor design which contrasts with the iron (‘pamor mubyar’).

Tangguh Amangkuratan (1645 – 1705; ’25)
Characteristic features: (1) also known as ‘tangguh Kartasura’; (2) an astonishing design which looks rather fierce; (3) contains unprocessed iron; and (4) a striped/layered pamor design (‘pamor kemambang’).

Tangguh Cirebon (1445 – 1677)
Characteristic features: (1) a slim yet normal sized blade; (2) a dark brown to black color which looks dry (due to ageing); (3) rarely features ada-ada; (4) a faded pamor design (‘pamor kelem’); and (5) a small ganja, also with a small sirah cicak.

Tangguh Surakarta (1749 – 1945)
Characteristic features: (1) a strong and fierce looking blade; (2) contains pieces of raw iron; (3) a bright pamor design (‘pamor mubyar’); and (4) a ganja that features tungkakan.

Tangguh Yogyakarta (1755 – 1945)
Characteristic features: (1) looks similar to kerises from the Majapahit era; (2) a highly refined blade in normal size; (3) long stretched waves (‘luk’); (4) the metal of the blade is smooth and looks like as if it was molten; (5) a deep blue color; (6) a pamor design which is smooth like ‘pamor mrambut’; and (7) a short gandik which is slightly bent.

Tangguh Kamardikan (1945 – )
Characteristic features: (1) no longer limited to the traditional designs; (2) revival of traditional designs through re-interpretation; and (3) more emphased placed on the artistic values than on mystical aspects.



– Cribb, R., 2010: ‘Digital Atlas of Indonesian History‘. Copenhagen: Nias Press.

– Harsrinuksmo, B., 2004: ‘Ensiklopedi Keris‘. Jakarta: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

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